Origins and Applications of Data Visualization

keyboardOn Wednesday, November 20th, I’ll be speaking at the Penn Humanities Forum about the origins and applications (both historical and contemporary) of data visualization techniques. The official abstract is as follows:

We live in what’s been called the “golden age” of data visualization, and yet, the graphical display of information has a long history, one that dates to the Enlightenment and arguably before. This talk will explore the origins and applications (both historical and contemporary) of data visualization techniques. Drawing from the fields of media history, digital humanities, and information visualization, Lauren Klein will introduce several techniques for data visualization, and reflect upon their uses—and their limits—in humanities research and teaching.

For more information, and to RSVP, click here.

Three Research Fellowships

UntitledIn more good news, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been awarded three research fellowships for the 2013-14 academic year. I’ve received the “Drawn to Art” fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society in order to conduct research for my second book, a cultural history of data visualization from the eighteenth century to the present. I’ve also received a one-month Mellon Foundation fellowship from the Library Company of Philadelphia for that project, which I’ll take up in May 2014.

In addition, I’ve received a Food Studies Fellowship from the New York Public Library in order to complete a chapter of my first monograph, Senses of Taste: Eating and Aesthetics in the Early Republic. My time at the NYPL will be spent exploring their historical cookbook collection, so as to determine how a shared cultural language of food emerged out of the transition from colonial rule to the early republic, and how that language transformed over the generations that followed into a national consensus about the interdependence of the cultivation of the American palate, and the cultivation of virtuous citizenship.

NEH Digital Humanities Startup Grant


I’m pleased to announce that my project with Jacob Eisenstein, Assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Computing, has been awarded a Digital Humanities Startup Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Our project, TOME, which stands for Interactive TOpic Model and MEtadata Visualization, is a tool to support the interactive exploration and visualization of text-based archives. Drawing upon the technique of topic modeling—that is, a computational method for identifying the themes that recur across a collection of texts—our tool will allow humanities scholars to trace the evolution and circulation of these themes across social networks and over time.

An archive of nineteenth-century antislavery newspapers, characterized by diverse authors and shifting political alliances, will serve as our initial dataset. Our analysis promises to motivate new methods for visualizing topic models and extending their impact. In turn, by applying these methods to these important texts, we hope to illuminate how issues of gender and racial identity affect the development of political ideology in the nineteenth century, and into the present day.

For updates on the TOME project in the coming year (and beyond), check back in on the Digital Humanities Lab website.

Archival Silence, Digital Humanities, and James Hemings

The slides from my November 7th talk at the University of Alabama’s Digital Humanities Center:


Below: A chord diagram of people mentioned in letters concerning James Hemings, as mined from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition.


University of Alabama Talk

On Wednesday, November 8th, I’ll be giving a talk at the University of Alabama’s Digital Scholarship Center.

I’ll be posting the slides from my talk upon my return, but as a preview, here’s John Melish‘s 1822 “Diagram of the United States.” (The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has a larger version).

I’ll also be leading a brown bag the next day, where I’ll discuss the following projects:


CFP: The History and Future of Data Visualization (ASECS 2013)

I’m chairing a panel at the 2013 American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies conference. The official call is posted below. Please contact me if you have any questions, or to submit a proposal.

American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS)
April 4-7, 2013
Cleveland, OH

CFP: “The History and Future of Data Visualization” (Digital Humanities Caucus)

Panel Organizer: Lauren Klein, Georgia Tech

According to the New York Times, the “next big thing” for the humanities is data. But scholars of the eighteenth century have long recognized that era as the one in which taxonomical representation of data, and related forms of visual display, rose to the fore. This panel seeks papers that address the history and future of data visualization, broadly conceived. Topics may include: data-mining and visualization techniques applied to eighteenth-century texts; eighteenth-century ideas about and approaches to data, and related forms of display; creative uses and/or theorizations of digital tools for teaching and research.

Please send 250 word abstract and 1-page CV to Lauren Klein, before Saturday, September 15th, 2012.

Two Recent Talks

I gave two talks in April, both of which have now been archived online. Click here to watch the video of my talk at Georgia Tech’s GVU Center, “Digital Humanities, Data Visualization, and James Hemings.”

I gave a related (but distinct) talk at Emory’s Digital Scholarship Commons, “Archival Silence, Digital Humanities, and James Hemings.” You can see an archive of the Tweets here, and a video of the talk here.